The story ends as it has started… a cold morning in the Romanian mountains….hundreds of people moving around… tension and stress….warming-up… There is spring in the air and the feeling of accomplishment is real and visible.
I have started one year ago to think about reaching this.. the whole marathon, my first one ever.
I have planned the complete training setup for this duration, hopping to reach the 42 km. Last year I attended the EcoMarathon cross and the 15 km have proved to be challenging enough. I had hopped that by following a strict training scheme for the flat surface I will be able to finish the 2300 height meters that EcoMarathon had prepared for us.
The complete route is composed by 3 different loops, each of them passing through the start point. This a quite nice setup as it offers the possibility to pass through the same point for 4 times.
The organization of the complete marathons is perfect. The route is good to be seen and there are plenty of stops to reload the energy.
The Competition start is quite crowded. There is a mix start for the marathon and the cross. The route starts by going up the village road and gives enough time for everybody to find their place and pace. I take up the challenge and try to save my energy, but soon I see myself before the first mountian paths and the “ecuation” changes completely. There is nothing to spare as the steep path takes all my power. Also, the muscles used for climbing and descending are quite different than the ones used for the flat road. This is something that I have expected, but not with such a huge impact.
Finishing the first loop gives me a good feeling, but I am more and more concerned about the pain in my legs that I feel when I am climbing. The start of the second loop brings the unexpected…after 20 km of running I have my first cramp. I could not believe that after so much training I am getting the first problems after only 20 km… luckily this goes away and the longs climb of the route gets started. We need to go up for 6 km to reach 1350 meters. The road is wide and I am struggling to make it to the top. I do try to follow each runner that passes me, but this starts to be more and more difficult as the pain is now extending. The descent that follows has the same pattern.. pain and cramps.. I am thinking of stopping after this loop… what is the point??? Pain is now everywhere… every small hill feels like a BIG mountain…
Well, reaching the third loop gives me exactly the energy that I need. I am now confident that if I struggle I can make it. I know that the third loop is also the most difficult one but I am now competing with myself and that is the best position to have. I know that I can spare enough by walking at the beginning and trying to end better on the final descent. The last part of route takes us to 1450 meters in snow and cold. I am totally empty but I use the last drops of energy to end the last kilometers.
I have made it.. after 5 hours and 23 minutes (see results at www.ecomarathon.ro) and the most important of all : I did reached the end of the distance (42nd at my group and 56th on the general)… there is nothing that you can compare this competition with. I will remember it forever…